Škaric / Scarich in Croatia and the United States

The Scarichs are from Brač. The first of our line of Scarichs to come to California was Vincent Gregory Scarich. Not many of us have visited family in Croatia. My (Greg’s) aunt and uncle, Rita and Gerry, visited probably in the late 70s. And Uncle Nick, one of Vincent’s sons visited from time to time. But no one I talked to knew who or where they visited. I was always told I was named after my great-grandfather Vincent Gregory Scarich from the island of Brač. However I’ve never seen anything in writing that confirms that his name was Vincent Gregory. His Certificate of Naturalization from 1905 has Visko Skarich (no accents). Škarić is Scarich in Croatian, so Skarich is yet another spelling.

Visko Skarich Naturalization

Before we went on our trip to Croatia we thought we’d try to visit some Scarichs if we could find any. My dad had some contact about 40 years ago, but never visited any relatives in Croatia. His uncle, Nick, had visited Croatia but neither my dad nor I could find any information on that. I tried one of my cousins since their parents had visited relatives in Croatia, but they didn’t have any information. I Googled and although I found plenty of Škarićs not much contact information or current information. The major of Split in 2000 was a Škarić and Split is the main port to catch the ferry to Brač. I also tried Facebook and found some Škarićs but not in Split or Brač. Nonetheless I contacted one, but never heard from her and real ized that I wasn’t likely to find any of the mostly thirty somethings on Facebook that would be interested in meeting us.

But in family papers I found that some distant cousins (Restovich) were buried in Postira, a town on the island of Brač. I also looked on a couple of genealogy sites but didn’t turn up anything. So we left on our trip with a plan to poke around the graveyard in Postira.

On our first full day in Croatia we were visiting a farmers market in Zagreb. Louisa saw some honey from Brač at a stand and the woman selling the honey said that there were lots of Škarićs on Brač. So we might find some, but I assumed that would be older non-English speaking and we wouldn’t learn much.

Ten days later in Split we decided to reconnoiter the ferry to Brač the day before we were to go. I went to the ticket office and Louisa started talking with a person in line for the ferry that afternoon. He was a Škarić. Skaric at Split Ferry

The next day we caught the 9 am ferry and upon arrival drove to Postira and went for lunch. In talking to the waitress she related that although she wasn’t from Brač she knew there were Škarićs and suggested going about half a kilometer down the shore to a grocery store and ask about the Škarićs neighborhood that was nearby. A whole neighborhood! This is getting interesting. I suggested the village priest and we all agreed that was even a better place to start. She pointed out the steeple and after lunch we wandered up the hill to the church. No one in the church, but we saw a house that looked like it might be the rectory and called into the open front door. The priest came out and although he spoke very little English he got the gist of what we were after and brought out a big ledger book. I had a birthdate of 1859 and Vincent Gregory/Visko for a name. He started thumbing through the book and ran into about ten pages of Škarićs. The book appeared to have been recompiled about 50 years ago with more recent additions (the book was organized and all the old entries had been put in at the same time (we later learned that many of the church records were copied over when the communists took over and the originals hidden away). The priest finally homed in on one page and although the birthdate differed by a year from what I had, and the first name was Vicko not Visko, but seemed like a reasonable variant. No middle name either. He then got kind of a knowing look and he went to make a call. He said two o’clock and I talked to Mila, my (third) cousin would said she would come by in an hour. During the hour Father Ton?i Jelin?i? brought us some homemade wine to drink.

An hour later not one but two cousins showed up and soon their cousin soon showed up. They were all females in their mid-fifties and spoke fluent English. We talked for a while and Mila invited us to her house for happy hour. It turns out their cousin, Ana, is the family genealogist and had a partial copy of the family tree. Up until then we weren’t convinced that we had nailed down the relationship, but her tree had Vinko Juraj, a brother of their great-grandfather. And eventually I remembered when I was about seven I met a relative from Bolivia, Sonja. They had met Sonja and her son, Vincent, who visits Brač every couple of years. With all these connections we agreed we must be cousins.

Photo of Greg and cousins
Greg, Mila, Mirjam and Ana

Mirjam, my other third cousin, met and married an American in college in Zagreb, and has lived in New York ever since. Her daughter, Anya, was there also and in fact visits every summer (except for two years during the war).

The next day, Mila took us for a tour of our neighborhood, called Škarića Dvori. Dvori we took to mean neighborhood of the Škarićs. She pointed out numerous building, several plaques celebrating famous Škarićs. We met one older couple. He is a Škarić but spoke no English.

Obviously we learned a lot more about the family than I’ve written about here. The cousins are all generous and interesting. We had a great time and will stay in contact.

We’ve posted photographs from the whole trip to Croatia on our to our website here.

We’re back in the USA

The trip was great. We met some wonderful people; reestablished relationships with others, enjoyed great scenery—natural and man made, had good food and wine, did some good hiking and biking. And learned some French—

Just getting over jet-lag after being back for five days. The trip was great. We met some wonderful people; reestablished relationships with others, enjoyed great scenery—natural and man made, had good food and wine, did some good hiking and biking. And learned some French—we’re both improved immensely and Louisa can carry on a conversation.

We would liked to have posted more, but we didn’t take a computer, and France and Switzerland don’t have many internet cafes.

We took a bunch of photos and plan to post some on the site. No video except some shot with point-and-shoot cameras.

One of the thing I first noticed when coming home is that more than half the vehicles are monster SUVs, trucks, and crossovers (station wagons). More than half the cars in France and Switzerland were (sub) compacts. Almost no pickups. Tradespeople use compact vehicles (like the Chrysler PT cruiser) or Sprinter like box vans.

The other thing of course is the lack of old, beautiful buildings. They keep up their old homes and villages and spent money restoring public building and castles, etc.. No wonder France is the number one tourist destination in the world. But they take tourism more seriously than we seem too. (Getting on soap box: I would assume tourism creates lots of lower skilled jobs that we certainly need. A recent LA Times article stated that tourism was now the regions biggest employer, since trade had dropped. We probably need to save more old building and realize that tourism is important to the economy. We will have to lower the barriers to foreigners traveling here too. We can’t be and don’t want to be Europe, but we could consider tourism more when making public financing decisions.)

Appenzell

Out on a walk in the Appenzell countryside. On a Sunday with many other Sunday walkers. Great because Gasthauses are along the trails and you can stop for beer and snacks. Yes, Switzerland is as pretty as all the photos. Particularly this time of year with the flowers and new green grass. At town elevation, the first crop of grass is being cut and then the cattle and sheep let out to get the rest.

Zurich-Tom & Iris’ Wedding

The wedding party gathered outside of 12th century Rapperswill Castle on a picture perfect sunny Swiss day overlooking Lake Zurich and the snow covered Alps beyond. Iris looked gorgeous in her satin red dress with a bouquet of yellow, orange and red ranuculus and hair up with small yellow flowers tucked into her curls. A seven year old nephew dressed as a chimmney sweep (symbol of good luck)appeared drawing a small flower festooned wagon with candies for two little flower girl nieces dressed in blue flower gowns to throw.

The ceremony was a small intimate gathering of only family and close friends in an upstairs drawing room of the castle. The bride and groom sat flanked by Dave, Tom’s brother and Regula, Iris’ best friend, at a large table with a bouquet of flowers in the center and natural daylight filtering into the room backlighting the couple as family members surrounded them. The officiant gave a talk on marriage in Swiss German( quite different than high German) then had them sign the contract with their witnesses. As they left the castle gate, they were greeted by bubble blowing friends, waving pinwheels and the kids starting more seriously throwing the candies around.

The wedding party meandered thru the town square to the Apero ( cocktails) in the Rapperswill platz below the castle where the bride and groom were seranaded by an African guitarist and kalimba player. We were also entertained by Tom and his fellow choir members who performed several accapello songs.
The reception was held at the 14th C. Ritterhaus, the knights house, in Uerikon which was a short train trip from Rapperswill. Ritterhaus is a rustic traditional half timber three story stone house right on the edge of the lake. Upon Tom and Iris’ arrival they were seated on the lawn by the lake for a footbath and massage while the guests socialized and kids played.
It is spring in Switzerland and every flower and tree is in bloom. It is an impossibly intense lushness, emerald green density and bountiful blooms bursting from every possible corner that make our California eyes go ga-ga.

The 40 some guests came prepared for an overnight at Ritterhaus in the dorm rooms which are large open rooms with sleeping platforms with mattress pads and blankets side by side for about twenty people. It was like a camp overnight – very casual.
I had prepared a poem/toast for the bride and groom at dinner based on a poem by Edward Lear which was about Tom and Iris’ travels by bike in Africa where we met them. One important thing I tried to incorporate into the poem was a little Swiss German. It is difficult to pronounce the word for “cheese pie” which is chas-chuechli which is pronounced more like “Hes-Huer-Hlee” but with big emphasis on the H in the back of the throat. That needed practice. So I rhymed ” They dined on Yassa( as in Yassa Poulet a Senegalese dish) but now chas-chuechli in the strasse (street) in Zurich their home sweet home.” I was excited to discover I could rhyme “Yassa” with “Strasse”.
The dinner was outstanding and followed by wedding cake and a buffet of homemade desserts and cheeses not to be believed. I had to sample a bit of each. We danced the night away to a marvelous Klezmer band who played by a crackling fire in the timber and stone dining hall. Iris’ Uncle Peter and I did some energetic swing dancing. I caught my breath dancing romantically with Greg in front of the fire as other couples did likewise.

In the morning after a breakfast of coffee and birchermuseli, cheeses, bread and homemade jams some of us braver guests jumped in the lake for a polar bear swim in the 50 F water. Very Swiss.